Bebita Ndongo Macias aka I.W.Fredd
Romelia: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I.W.Fredd: This realization dawned on me when I was seven or eight years old. I wrote my first short story about two kids trapped in a haunted house on Halloween for a school assignment. The feedback from faculty, parents, and fellow students was outstanding. I decided that writing was the best way for me to entertain, educate, and express the workings of my imagination and creativity.
Romelia: How long does it take you to write a book?
I.W.Fredd: It depends on the genre for me. Though I’m a multi-genre author, I tend to finish books in genres like Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Adventure, and Action faster because they’re genres that I frequently write in. I finish writing a book in a few months. Genres like horror, mystery, Sci-Fi, and others take me over a year to complete because I tend to change my writing style to suit the way I want to tell the story. I’m weird like that. [laughs]
Romelia: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I.W.Fredd: I am a person who’s always had an overactive imagination. This, coupled with my curiosity and need to investigate everything, helps me develop a wide range of ideas. Some come through dreams, others through songs I frequently listen to, shows I watch, games I play, or conversations with others. I read a lot, so I also like to visit places like libraries, museums, churches, and other sites to find factual information to mingle with my fictional storylines. So my books will always contain a mix of fact, fiction, and personal experiences.
Romelia: Who are your favorite authors?
I.W.Fredd: My favorite authors include R.L.Stine, James Patterson, Cassandra Clare, Margeret Peterson Haddix, Ellen Hopkins, Joseph C. Evans, Madeline Roux, Sarah Dessen, Ann M. Martin, Joan Lowery Nixon, and Carolyn Keene.
Romelia: What is the first book that made you cry?
I.W.Fredd: Hmm…maybe ‘Smoke’ by Ellen Hopkins. I remember that the ending was so unexpectedly tragic that I couldn’t bring myself to look at the book for a few days. The first time I read about such a significant loss for a protagonist before, I felt it to the core. [laughs] My friends would say that I was overdramatic.
Romelia: What are your favorite kinds of books to read?
I.W.Fredd: I love to read mysteries, romance, drama, horror, and fantasy books the most.
Romelia: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I.W.Fredd: I would still be an entertainer. I would continue to be an actress, model, cosplayer, and much more. I could never turn my back on art. [laughs]
Romelia: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I.W.Fredd: There are too many to list. The most common include trading originality for what sales, confining your writing to yourself, lack of time spent on the story, and thinking that feedback isn’t needed. Falling into these traps can hinder your success as a writer. Be careful.
Romelia: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I.W.Fredd: It can go both ways. A writer with an ego can have more intolerance of ill-intended criticism from trolls because of their self-importance view of themselves. On the other hand, it can hurt a writer by making them obnoxious to others no one wants to work with. It’s like a double-edged sword for the individual and something that should be kept in check.
Romelia: What is your writing Kryptonite?
I.W.Fredd: My writing kryptonite would be self-criticism and fear of success. The thing with me is that I can be my number one fan or worst enemy because of doubts that I struggle with when I write. I can start off well and confident in my plot, characters, and direction. Still, somewhere along the line, I start to overthink and doubt where I’m going with my story. When this happens, I stop and think long and hard for days on end, thus my bad habit of procrastination. When I get it done and submit it for publishing, I start to worry immensely about how my readers react to my craft. I put pressure on myself that should not be there and doubt my own abilities. But all bad habits can be curbed with time. [smiles]
Romelia: Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I.W.Fredd: Many times—and it can be frustrating. The best remedy to rid yourself of Writer’s Block is to leave it alone and do something else. Watching TV, drive through the city, a night out with friends or family, or anything that will get your mind out of the gutter and refresh it for writing when you go back to it. Forcing it never works in my experience.
Romelia: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I.W.Fredd: Yes. I write under the I.W.Fredd. This started by accident at 16 years old. I was an anonymous writer on an online site called Storywrite and needed a screen name. I watched an anime called ‘Spiral,’ and there was a character there that I adored. I mistook his name for ‘Ice Winifredd’ when his name was actually ‘Eyes Rutherford’ and decided to use it for the time being. My fandom snowballed, and the name ended up sticking to me. [laughs]. I ended up keeping it and use it ever since.
Romelia: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I.W.Fredd: I like to be original as it’s the best way to tell my stories. I am lucky to have such a great fandom that understands this about me, but I’m not opposed to hearing ideas they want to share with me.
Romelia: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I.W.Fredd: I think it’s possible. On the other hand, I believe strong emotions are a gift to a writer. When we channel these emotions into our characters, it helps the readers connect and live the experience and fulfill the energy in the book you are writing. All of it—characters, setting, trials, thoughts, and events are needed to properly tell a story, and emotions help give it dimension and life.
Romelia: What are things that helped you become a better writer?
I.W.Fredd: Reading to develop an eye for effective writing, brushing up on grammar/spelling/punctuation, writing as much as possible, thinking outside the box, discipline, having passion, and pressing attention to details. As I continued to write over the years, I noticed my weakness and learned ways to them into strengths.
Romelia: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
I.W.Fredd: At this time, I want my book to stand on its own. That’s not to say that I won’t build a connection book of work in the future. I’m a new author in the publishing world, and I’m grasping my footing and deciding where I want to go as I’m learning. I’m always willing to give everything a chance when an opportunity presents itself. [smiles]
Romelia: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I.W.Fredd: I would tell her to be disciplined and enjoy the process. My younger self was impetuous. Passion, dedication, and determination, she had in spades. But she lacked focus, consistency, and discipline. When a published work wasn’t viral on the internet, she would quit and jump to the next thing. Maybe that’s why I have so many unfinished projects. [laughs]
Romelia: Will you be publishing other books in the future? If so, which ones?
I.W.Fredd: Of course! After Lights Out, I will be publishing different books. An anime-influenced, kpop inspired romantic comedy called Crazy Little Love Story that I’ve been working on for quite some time now. I also revamped an old fantasy/adventure called Cry of Destiny that I’m excited to share with my readers when it’s ready for release. The sky is the limit in my world. [laughs].
Romelia: Did you spend a lot of money to release your book?
I.W.Fredd: Oh yes! It was more expensive than I thought going into it. But if you don’t invest in your endeavors, then who will? Regardless, it’s worth every penny, and I’m thrilled with the outcome of the process. [smiles] I will happily be doing it again.
Romelia: What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
I.W.Fredd: Stephanie Meyer and Stephen King. I got into the Twilight series in 8th grade. A classmate recommended it, and so I gave it a read. I felt like her concept was cliché and questionable though her writing style was easy to follow. I read New Moon and Eclipse, and I was fed up with the series by the end. However, when I read The Host, I was obsessed and blown away by how excellent the book was that I re-read it two more times. [laughs] I felt like such a dork for doubting her talent in the first place. With Stephen King, initially, I found him boring. The first book I read was “It” because a co-worker recommended the book and I couldn’t finish it. I suppose the problem I had was that his style was very different from what I was accustomed to. It came across as too much “writer” and not enough “storyteller.” I watched numerous movie adaptations like Thinner and The Shining before going back to re-read his books. The Talisman is my favorite Stephan King book so far. He’s a legendary writer. [smiles].
Romelia: What did you do with your first advance?
I.W.Fredd: That advice propelled me to keep writing. It went from a fun school assignment to a passionate devotion to storytelling that I’m wholeheartedly invested in. At 9 years old, I created comic books, wrote poetry, song lyrics (a failed attempt of rapping by making rhyming poetry lyrics), short stories, and acting them out with my siblings. A favorite in my household was called Dragon Thunder, which was inspired y Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon—popular shows in my childhood.
Romelia: How did writing tie into your acting?
I.W.Fredd: I was very active in acting out my stories as a kid with my siblings. When I watched Halloween with my family that year and watched Jamie Lee Curtis give a phenomenal performance in the movie, everything changed. I realized what acting was and that I wanted to do it more. In a way, I was writing my own stories ( script), acting them out with my cast (my siblings), and performing them to the viewers (my family). I guess I found my calling before realizing what I wanted to do with my life. [laughs].
Romelia: Do you have any regrets about your life so far?
I.W.Fredd: At this point in time, I do not. In my younger years, I obsessed over doing everything at the “right time.” I planned to live my life by an internal timeline I set up for myself (drive/car at 16, graduate at 18, married at 25, kids at 30, etc.). I would get so depressed when things didn’t happen how I felt they should have occurred because other kids in my generation got it and I didn’t. However, as time went on and I got older, I realized that trying to live in such a way was a complete waste of time. I should accept that I can’t plan events in my life like I can arrange a plotline in the story and have the characters and events act or happen accordingly. It’s stupid, useless, and something that held me back for a very long time. I learned to let go of what I can’t control, embrace what I can, and go with it. Life is great despite the ongoing pandemic right now, and I’m excited to see what’s around the next corner. [smiles]
Romelia: From where you get inspired with your first book?
I.W.Fredd: For Lights Out (my first published book), my inspirations came from binge-reading lots of R.L.Stine and Madeline Roux books. I’ve been a horror fan all my life and wanted to see how I would write in a foreign genre to me as an author, but familiar to me as a movie buff. As expected, it came with its fair share of complications and disappoints. But you can’t have a good book without trial and error, in my opinion. So regardless of what the public reception of my debut novel will be, I’ll always be proud of this project and look forward to learning more as I continue writing.
Romelia: Describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.
I.W.Fredd: Hello World. Bebita Ndongo Macias is hard to describe in words. I am a multi-faceted person—kind, friendly, intelligent, talented, and funny. But I’m also stubborn, impatient, emotional, elusive, and fickle. I’m an optimist, curious like a cat, investigative like a detective, but with an energy and personality that outshines the sun. I’m young, unique, and still trying to figure myself out. Something that many don’t know about me is that I hate coconuts. One thing I hate about the world is corruption.